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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

28 Jan 2020


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UK to Unveil Fast-track Visa for Scientists Next Month

  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that his government will unveil a fast-track visa for scientists, mathematicians and researchers next month, and said that the country was open to the most talented minds in the world.
  • The Global Talent visa will be open from February 20 to those who work in a qualifying field and have been endorsed by a recognised UK body.
  • The new visa system will be managed by the UK Research and Innovation Agency (UKRI), which funds government research. This is to ensure that suitable applicants are quickly assessed and fast-tracked.
  • As per Boris, that is why the UK is leaving the EU (European Union) I want to send a message that the UK is open to the most talented minds in the world, and stand ready to support them to turn their ideas into reality.
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Sainsbury's Pledges £1bn to Cut Emissions to Zero

  • Sainsbury's promised to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero over the next 20 years.
  • The second largest supermarket chain in the UK will spend £1bn to reach the target.
  • It pledged to reduce emissions from areas like refrigeration and transport.
  • But, while the 2040 target puts Sainsbury's ahead of rivals, critics noted that it does not extend to the supermarket's supply network, which accounts for most of its emissions.
  • Currently, Sainsbury's produces one million tonnes of carbon each year, although, the supermarket said that figure had fallen by a third in the last 15 years.

Poonch Project to Explore Indus Valley Links

  • The limits of the Indus Valley civilisation could stretch to Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir, if a new excavation project of the Centre yields such findings. The Union ministry of culture approved an excavation project of the Archaeological Survey of India to explore archaeological possibilities in the region.
  • The Poonch excavation, and another in Masol in Chandigarh's Mohali district, are two projects which were given additional permission for excavation and exploration for the 2019-20 field season by the ASI's apex advisory body, the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology (CABA). A list of nine projects was permitted in the first list released in October 2019.
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Urban Cooperative Banks Reported Nearly 1,000 Frauds in Five Years

  • According to the Reserve Bank of India, urban cooperative banks (UCBs) have reported nearly 1,000 cases of fraud worth more than Rs. 220 crore in the last five fiscals. Responding to an RTI query, the central bank said that a total of 181 fraud cases involving Rs. 127.7 crore were noticed during 2018-19.
  • A total of 99 and 27 such cases involving Rs. 46.9 crore and Rs. 9.3 crore were reported during 2017-18 and 2016-16 respectively.
  • As many as 187 cases of fraud involving Rs. 17.3 crore were reported in 2015-16 as against 478 such cases involving Rs. 19.8 crore during 2014-15.
  • During 2014-15 and 2018-19, a total of 972 cases of bank fraud worth Rs. 221 crore were reported by the UCBs.

LIC Increases Market Share in First-year Premium Income

  • Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) increased its share of the first-year premium income in the first nine months of this fiscal. LIC's share rose to 70.52% from 66.24% recorded in 2018-19.
  • Mukesh Kumar Gupta, managing director, LIC said that during the current fiscal, our market share improved in terms of first-year premium income. We have crossed last year's collection of Rs. 1,42,000 crore in total first-year premium, 67 days ahead of the schedule.
  • LIC also crossed Rs. 1 lakh crore in first year premium in the Pension and Group Insurance vertical for the first time. As per Mr. Gupta the insurance major had Rs. 32 lakh crore in assets and Rs. 29 lakh crore in investment. Recently, it had paid dividend of Rs. 2,611 crore to the Centre.
  • As of December 2019, LIC had posted a growth of 17.81% in number of policies sold and 45.56% in first year premium income.

Nissan to Revive India Business, Continue Datsun

  • In a bid to revive its business in the Indian market, Japanese car maker Nissan has re-worked its strategy for the country and plans to launch a new vehicle model every year, starting with a compact SUV to be introduced in 2020.
  • As part of the strategy, the company will be focussing on Nissan as its primary brand, Nissan Motor India managing director Rakesh Srivastava said. However, Datsun brand will not be discontinued.
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Karnataka Mini Olympics

  • The Karnataka Mini Olympic Games, a week-long multi-sport event featuring 18 disciplines, will get under way at various venues in the city from February 3, 2020. The Mini Olympics — jointly conducted by the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports, Govt. of Karnataka; the Sports Authority of Karnataka (SAK) and the Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) is the first event of its sort in the country, stated K. S. Eshwarappa, Minister for Youth Empowerment and Sports, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
  • A total of 4000 athletes, all in the U-14 age-group, are expected to participate in the Mini Olympics. The 18 disciplines are: athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, fencing, football, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, kho-kho, kabaddi, lawn tennis, netball, swimming, table tennis, taekwon-do, and volleyball. The top eight athletes in each category in each event have been selected to participate in the Mini Olympics by the respective state associations.

Mumbai to Host IPL Final

  • The title clash of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be held in Mumbai on May 24, 2020 and the night matches will have usual 8 pm start as the Governing Council decided against changing the timings, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly announced.
  • IPL 2020 will have only five double headers (4 pm and 8 pm).
  • In a first, concussion substitute and 'third umpire no ball' will also be introduced in the upcoming edition. The third umpire will now make the exclusive 'no ball' call instead of the on-field umpires.
  • In a noble gesture, the BCCI will have an 'All Stars Game' between all top international players before start of the IPL on March 29 for a charitable cause.
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Govt. Inks Peace Pact with Assam Militant Group NDFB

  • The Union home ministry signed a tripartite agreement with the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Assam government, bringing the state's Bodo community closer to the mainstream.
  • As a part of the agreement, the Bodos will now get political and economic aid from the Centre, and Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) will be renamed Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). The NDFB's long standing demand of a separate state or a Union territory for Bodos stands unmet.
  • The accord, signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and representative of factions of the NDFB, will ensure that territorial integrity of Assam is maintained.

Government Invites Applications for SEBI Chairman's Position

  • The government has started scouting for a new chairman for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), before Ajay Tyagi's three-year term at the helm of the regulator ends on 31st March, 2020.
  • The chairman will be appointed on the recommendation of the Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Committee (FSRAC). The committee is also free to recommend a candidate on the basis of merit even if he or she has not applied for the post. The new chairman will have a tenure of five years.
  • Tyagi took charge as SEBI chairman on 1 March 2017 at the end of predecessor U. K. Sinha's term. Tyagi, who was appointed for three years, is eligible for reappointment for two more years.

Sibal, Jaising and Dave Dismiss Receiving PFI Funds for Stir

  • Congress leader Kapil Sibal and senior advocates Indira Jaising and Dushyant Dave denied receiving funds from the controversial Popular Front of India (PFI) in relation to the countrywide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA. Their response came on the day the Enforcement Directorate (ED), in a note submitted to the home ministry, said the Kerala-based outfit mobilised cash for organising the unrest.
  • The ED initiated an inquiry last month after Uttar Pradesh claimed the group was behind the protests in the state.
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Taurus Signs Deal with Steel Group Jindal to Produce Guns in India

  • Brazilian gun maker Taurus Armas SA signed a joint venture with Indian steelmaker Jindal Group to produce and sell guns in India.
  • Under the agreement, Jindal will hold a 51% stake in the venture and Taurus the remaining shares.
  • The deal was signed during Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's visit to India.

Centre Tells States to Buy Indigenous Rifles

  • The Union home ministry asked eight Left-wing Extremism (LWE)-hit states to purchase indigenously built instead of foreign made weapons for their police forces involved in anti-Maoist operations.
  • The issue was discussed at a meeting of top officers from the eight states on police modernisation. The ministry's additional secretary (police modernisation), Vivek Bhardwaj, chaired the meeting. Several Ordinance factories such as in Jabalpur and Rae Bareli in India have been manufacturing weapons, which can be used both by the security personnel and military. Special director general, R. K. Vij, who is in charge of police modernisation in Chhattisgarh, said that the ministry's representatives at the meeting emphasised on the need for using locally made automatic rifles. These rifles include Trichy Assault Rifles and AK-203 automatic rifles, which are better than self-loading rifles [SLRs] and AK-47s.
  • The ministry has classified Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala as LWE-affected states in varying degrees.
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Kartik Aaryan Brand Ambassador of Bombay Shaving Company

  • Bombay Shaving Company, a male grooming products manufacturer, appointed Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan as its brand ambassador. The actor will be endorsing the brand's shave and facial grooming range. The association aims to popularize the brand amongst millennial consumer base who are increasingly looking to experiment with their look.
  • Launched in 2016, Bombay Shaving Company started as a direct to consumer premium experiential shaving regimen but quickly expanded into skin, beard and bath categories. The company stated that it is focussing on offline expansion aiming to take its current footprint of 3,000 stores to 10,000 stores in the coming months. The firm claims to have more than 2.5 lakh customers. It aims to become an Rs. 100 crore brand in the next one year.
  • As an omnichannel brand Bombay Shaving Company products are available on own site, marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart. It is backed by Sixth Sense Venture Partners, and Colgate Palmolive Asia Pacific, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive.
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Birth Anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai

  • Lala Lajpat Rai (28 January 1865 – 17 November 1928) was one of India's most celebrated freedom fighters. His ideology of nationalism and zealous patriotism earned him the title, 'Punjab Kesari' and 'Lion of Punjab'. He was part of the famous radical trio Lal Bal Pal,who advocated the Swadeshi movement in India, involving the boycott of all imported goods and the use of Indian made goods. Rai also initiated the foundation of Punjab National Bank. In 1897, he founded the Hindu Orphan Relief Movement to keep the Christian missions from securing custody of these children. Rai died from a heart attack after not recovering from injuries received during a police lathi-charge, while protesting the arrival of Simon Commission.
  • This year (2020) it is the 155th birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai.

DefExpo 2020 will be the Biggest Ever

  • The Defence Expo 2020 in Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow city is going to be by far the biggest expo as a high number of companies have registered this year. The number of international companies confirming their presence at the expo has also gone up as compared to previous expos.
  • Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that the number of companies registered for participating in the 11th edition of the biennial mega defence exhibition, DefExpo 2020, to be held at Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow between February 5-9, 2020; has reached 1,000. In the DefExpo 2018, held in Chennai, 702 companies had participated. Thus, it has become by far the biggest ever DefExpo to be held in India.
  • The number of participating foreign companies has also increased to 165 from the previous figure of 160 as informed by the Ministry. Apart from this, over 70 countries are expected to participate.
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Padma Awards Announced on Republic Day

  • The Government of India announced 141 Padma Awards on the occasion of 71st Republic Day celebrations.

    List of Padma Vibhushan 2020 winners
  • These include George Fernandes (Posthumous), Arun Jaitley (Posthumous), former Prime Minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth, Mary Kom, Chhannulal Mishra, Sushma Swaraj (posthumous) and Pejavara Adhokhaja Matha Udupi (Posthumous).
  • List of Padma Bhushan 2020 Winners
  • Winners of this year's Padma Bhushan award are - M. Mumtaz Ali, Muazzam Ali (posthumously), Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Ajay Chakraborty, Manoj Das, Balakrishna Doshi, Krishnammal Jagannathan, Former Nagaland Chief Minister SC Jamir, Uttarakhand's well-known environmentalist and social worker Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi, Dr. Tsering Landol, eminent industrialist Anand Mahindra, Neelakanta Ramakrishna Madhava Menon (Posthumous), former Union Minister Manohar Parrikar (Posthumous), Prof. Jagdish Seth, Olympian badminton player P. V. Sindhu and industrialist Venu Srinivasan.
  • List of Padma Shri 2020 Winners
  • Guru Shashadhar Acharya,Dr. Yogi Aeron,Jai Prakash Agarwal, Jagdish Lal Ahuja Social Work Punjab, Kazi Masum Akhtar, Gloria Arieira, Khan Zaheerkhan Bakhtiyarkhan, Padmavathy Bandopadhyay, Dr. Sushovan Banerjee, Dr. Digambar Behera, Dr. Damayanti Beshra, Pawar Popatrao Bhaguji, Himmata Ram Bhambhu, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Gafurbhai M. Bilakhia, Bob Blackman,Indira P. P. Bora, Madan Singh Chauhan among others.
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IIT Gandhinagar to House 50 Corporate R&D Centres

  • Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar is building a research park that will house 50 corporate R&D centres at an investment of around Rs. 100 crore. A sizeable portion of this will be dedicated to micro and small enterprises sector that is known for its growth prospect and job creations.
  • The 200,000-square-feet facility, one of the largest among new national institutions, has bagged a grant of Rs. 90 crore from the department of science and technology (DST). Rest of the funding, including recurring cost, will come from the institution.
  • Pandey said, while 10 R&D centres will be of large companies and government departments, between 20 and 25 will be from the MSME sector and rest will be startups. Nine R&D facilities have already come on board.

Mumbai Gets Second All-women Post Office

  • The city's second 'mahila dakghar' - post office operated by women staffers was inaugurated by operations member, Department of Posts, Arundhaty Ghosh at Mahim Bazaar.
  • All the official positions at the post office, from postmaster in-charge to counter persons, will be managed by women. They will manage and supervise all types of work including, Savings Bank Counters, Multipurpose registration booking counters, Aadhaar Centre, India Posts Payment Bank and Treasury work.
  • Until now, Mumbai had only one all-women post office, which is located in the Fort area and managed by five women employees.

After HC order, JNU Allows Students to Register without Paying Hiked Fee

  • Following a Delhi High Court order, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration allowed students to register for the current semester without paying the revised hostel feel and any late payment penalty. The move has created discontent among a section of the students who had registered earlier by paying the hiked hostel fee, with some of them saying that they should get a refund.
  • The Delhi High Court had allowed the remaining 10% students to register on the older fee rates, after the JNU Students Union (JNUSU) had moved court seeking withdrawal of the new fee structure.
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Benetton India Awards its Digital Mandate to Dentsu X-cubic

  • Benetton India, the Indian arm of global fashion firm Benetton Group, has awarded its digital media duties to Dentsu X's agency dX-cubic, effective January 2020. The incumbent agency on the account is GroupM, owned media agency Wavemaker India.
  • Benetton's strength lies in its millennial consumer base who show a deep connection and love for the brand.
  • As part of the mandate, the agency will handle media planning, buying and strategy of the fashion brand across all digital platforms.
  • Dentsu X India comprises three agencies - dX-matrix, dX-cubic and dX-palette, offering integrated communication solutions. Owned by Dentsu Aegis Network, Dentsu Media was rebranded as Dentsu X in 2017. Apart from media buying and planning the agency assist on content creation, technology, data and behavioural insights to its clients.
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Indian Railways to Run 100% on Electricity by 2024

  • Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said that the Indian Railways is expected to switch entirely to electricity by 2024, as it is already shunting diesel locomotives gradually out of service.
  • Goyal said at India-Brazil Business Forum that it will be the first railway network in the world to be run fully on electricity. We are very conscious of our responsibility to the environment. We are embarking on rapid electrification of our rail network.

Malaysia Bans Visitors

  • Malaysia's government announced it will ban travellers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan and other parts of surrounding Hubei province beginning immediately.
  • A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Department said Malaysia would stop issuing visas for Chinese travellers from those areas.
  • Normal visa procedures will resume once the situation returns to normal.
  • Meanwhile, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that his country was considering evacuating its citizens from Wuhan.
  • A consular team was expected to arrive in Wuhan to provide Germans there with assistance.

All Departing Flyers at IGIA will have to Remove Footwear

  • Passengers flying out from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) will have to take off their footwear before the mandatory body scan as part of the security check-in procedure starting in April, according to senior officers from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which secures the Delhi airport.
  • This is because extensive tests conducted on the body scanning machines showed that it did not deliver accurate results below the ankle. The CISF has been testing out the German-made machines since November 2019.
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